“Yo, Deej! We’re almost out of Carlton Draught.”
“Shit.” I look around the bar and all the people waiting to be served before nodding to Michael, my second-in-command and current housemate.
“I’ll go get the next barrel,” I call to him over the noise. “Be back in a sec.”
I take the steps down to the cellar two at a time, doing my best not to let the stress get to me when I can’t lay my hands on the keg I need straight away.
Normally, I don’t let anything worry me too much. My old man died of a heart attack brought on by too much stress. No way am I leaving this world the same way.
Which is why I’ve been reminding myself all evening that being one bartender short tonight isn’t the end of the world. The two interviews I conducted on Thursday went well and both girls promised to come back tonight for their official start, but only one of them showed up. Unfortunately, Ally doesn’t seem like she is just here to work. She’s a great looking girl, and I appreciate that she wants to flirt with me and the rest of the guys working and have a good time – hell, we all like to have a good time – but when the crowd is as thick as it is tonight, I need her to do her job.
We’re getting slammed and I need another server. I made a couple of calls earlier, but with it being a Saturday night, all my staff members have plans.
Despite the upbeat music spilling out of the speakers, my mood is less than stellar when I finally emerge with the barrel of beer. It doesn’t help that Austin called yesterday to tell me Claire needs some space. I mentioned Claire’s comments about wanting to have fun and act recklessly, but Austin was adamant I at least give the appearance of keeping my distance for a while.
Knowing Claire and Austin, Claire probably blackmailed Austin into doing her bidding. Which, of course, leaves me worrying about Claire’s latest plan to have fun.
I pass the barrel over to Michael and get back to serving, only to be stopped dead by a woman at the bar with a pair of blue-green eyes I’d know anywhere.
Gone is the sensible white blouse from Thursday night, and in its place is a deep blue dress with a plunging neckline. She must be wearing a push-up bra because no way has her bust grown overnight. It doesn’t matter that her cleavage is aided by a very clever item of lingerie, the sight of her breasts pushed up together makes my blood rush south so fast I grab onto the bar counter to keep myself steady.
I drag my gaze up from her cleavage and force myself to look at her face. The scowl I’m so used to seeing whenever she looks at me is gone. She doesn’t look apprehensive or the least bit wary. Instead, mischief dances in her eyes, and those luscious lips of hers are curled into a smile so sexy my dick jumps in response. Thursday, she told me she hated me. Today, there is no sign of the woman who demanded I stay away from her.
Great. She’s spoken to Austin and now she assumes she can walk into my bar and parade around wearing the sexiest thing she owns while I stand back and watch. Not damn likely. If Claire thinks I’m going to let her walk out of here tonight with some stranger, she has another thing coming. I told Austin I’ll back off, but I’m not above going back on my word to make sure Claire is safe.
“What do you want, Claire?”
“One Cock-Sucking Cowboy, please.”
“How about we make it water, and you go home and forget whatever it is you have planned for this evening?”
“I’m afraid I can’t do that until I talk to you.”
A landslide of apprehension shifts through me. “Talk to me about what, exactly?”
“Well…I realised it’s been a while since we caught up properly.”
Why the hell would she want to ‘catch up’ with me? More importantly, why did she dress up for the occasion? Claire was furious with me on Thursday, and as crappy as I feel for upsetting her, I’m more comfortable with her calling me a jerk than I’m with her proposing we have a conversation while she’s dressed the way she is.
I look over just in time to catch Michael pointing to Ally. Our newest recruit is overfilling a beer glass as she flirts with the guy she’s serving. All the while beer spills onto the floor next to her.
“For fuck’s sake,” I mutter before turning back to Claire. “Listen, Claire. We’re slammed at the moment. One of my girls didn’t show tonight.”
“Oh, okay. I…guess it can wait, then.”
I don’t miss the way her smile slips and her eyes dim ever so slightly before she looks down at what she is wearing and then up at me again. Why, oh why did she come in here dressed like that? She is attracting attention from every man in the place – which was probably her intention. Well, that and driving me insane. If I go back to work and leave her alone, men will start hitting on her. I don’t want her anywhere in this bar where I can’t see her – as distracting as it is to have her in my sights.
“But I do want to catch up with you,” I tell her quickly. “Can you wait for things to die down a bit?”
Her smile brightens. “Sure. I’ll wait until you’re…less busy. I still want my shot, though.”
At that moment, one of my regulars, Kane, slides into the empty spot next to Claire and leers at her breasts. “Hey there, pretty ladies. What are your names?”
Claire looks horrified, and I can’t blame her for being creeped out. Kane usually isn’t too bad, but when he goes over six beers, he starts to get over-confident and annoying.
“You know, Claire,” I start. “I could use a hand back here. Think you could help a guy out for a bit?”
Her eyes widen. “I can’t do that.”
“Sure you can. Austin’s done it before. It’s easy.”
“I don’t know how to mix drinks or shots.”
“Then just serve the pre-mixed drinks in the fridge and the beer on tap.”
She shakes her head.
The sound of glass smashing punctuates Michael’s shout.
This is not my night. I need to clean up, and I can’t put off serving the thirsty crowd any longer. I may not want to leave Claire alone looking the way she does, but I don’t have much choice.
“Let me know if you change your mind,” I say, reluctantly leaving her with Kane.
A/N: Thanks for reading! 🙂 Please like, share or leave a comment if you enjoyed the chapter, or just keep reading.